English, Monkeys and Nationalism

I was a bit shocked to hear Freddie Aguilar commenting on Charice’s and Arnel Pineda’s commercial success abroad, tagging them monkeys for singing foreign songs, imitating foreign styles to appeal to the worldwide audience. Even Gary V., the country’s one and only Mr. Pure Energy, was not spared from these barraging comments with Aguilar calling him a copycat for imitating Michael Jackson’s dance moves.

“E, pinatotohanan lang ang sinabi ni Mariah Carey na tayong mga Filipino ay mga unggoy. Kasi, wala tayong sarili, gaya-gaya lang tayo. Nasa Amerika ka na, binigyan ka na ng pagkakataon na kumanta sa Oprah, bakit kumanta ka pa ng kanta ni Celine Dion? Sinabi ni Mariah na mga unggoy ang Filipino, gaya-gaya lang kayo, e, di napatunayan nga, totoo nga.

“Kasi, di ba, what monkeys see, monkeys do. Dapat ang kinanta niya, bakit hindi ‘Dahil Sa Iyo’ o kaya ay kahit ano, basta kantang Filipino? O kaya Visayan, Ilocano… lalo siyang sisikat sa buong mundo nun,” Freddie says.

Sure, he might say the comment was made with good intentions, in good spirits, but I guess a little tact wouldn’t hurt, Mr. Aguilar??
Of course he is one true Pinoy music icon, nobody argues with that. Anak, his claim to international fame, was a smash hit – translated to over 26 different languages and has won accolades here and abroad. It’s just a little disturbing that after a few of our kababayans made the Pinoy genealogy proud, an icon of ours would see it as something unfit and would be first to criticize. So much for being happy for the achievement of others, eh?!?
But what really is nationalism? And what are steps to show love for country ? Is it really about dumping English as a medium of communication; replacing it with Filipino – in this day and age, to adhere to Rizal’s “ang sinumang di magmahal sa sariling wika ay mas malala pa sa malansang isda” ? Is it really about singing a Visayan, Ilocano song in front of international TV viewers when you’re fully aware appreciation comes with understanding?
I am a firm believer of Rizal’s life and works and I value history so much I still am thankful for the benefits of the freedom our forefathers fought for, but let’s face it – We are living in such a fast-paced world that certain impracticalities may no longer apply. Whether we may accept it or not, learning to speak English works to our benefit. And while we may hold Tagalog, or the generic – Filipino – as something valuable, we may have to uphold English in certain situations and forget for a while that we have our own language to use. Just bein’ real.
I think it’s one thing to sing an English song, at the same time – shout to the whole world that you are a Filipino, in flesh and blood. It’s also another thing to stick to what’s traditional, compromise comprehension – ergo losing realization – all because of some twisted nationalistic idealism.
And for the sake of argument, it was never really proven Mariah said those words to Regine before. Afterall, it might have been just plain, old chismis.

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